By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON (8/23/11) - National Guard adjutants general along the East and Gulf Coasts are currently awaiting the potential landfall of Hurricane Irene, but are prepared to act if called upon by their governors, Guard officials said today.
As of 3:30 p.m., the Florida National Guard's 125 Fighter Wing, has upgraded to Hurricane Condition (HURCON) three and began to evacuate aircraft. They have not begun to evacuate personnel.
The Puerto Rico National Guard's 156th Airlift Wing will remain at HURCON one, and four of the eight evacuated aircraft have returned back to the base, with other aircraft scheduled to return over the next two days.
In an Associated Press release South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she's been in meetings and on the phone today regarding hurricane preparedness and decided to raise the states readiness level to four.
She says volunteers are in place, food is available, shelters are stocked and the National Guard is ready.
According to the National Hurricane Center Hurricane Irene is still a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.
As of noon, the center of Irene was located about 70 miles south of Grand Turk Island, and about 50 miles north northwest of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
It is moving toward the west northwest at about 12 mph and is expected to continue through tonight followed by a turn to the northwest on Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds are anticipated to reach near 100 mph with higher gusts.
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 205 miles from the center.According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Irene could potentially reach land fall in Florida in the next two days if it follows its current course.